Katrina Marson spent years prosecuting sex-based offenses, so understandably she has a vested interest in exploring any and all opportunities for prevention. When she was awarded the Churchill Fellowship in 2019, she used the time and resources it afforded her to learn from experts around the world about how comprehensive sex and relationship education can prevent the crimes that passed across her desk. In Legitimate Sexpectations, she lays out what she learned and what we can do to ensure that everyone lives a life not just free from sexual violence, but far from it.

Bri Lee, one of Australia’s most recognisable survivors and advocates, called Legitimate Sexpectations “urgent, clear, and pragmatic… a beacon of hope for a brighter, safer, better future”. So, needless to say, I was thrilled when the team at Scribe sent me a copy for review.

This book “exposes the limits of the criminal justice system and the fault lines in our society when it comes to sex, sexuality, and relationships… [and] makes the case for a cultural shift”. See, it’s not enough for institutions to ‘leap into action’ after something terrible has happened. Kids don’t (just) need to learn how to put a condom on a banana when they turn 16. Telling kids to ‘just say no’ to sex before marriage leaves them horribly ill-equipped to navigate the murky waters of burgeoning sexuality, and leaves them vulnerable to violations of their bodily autonomy (sexual and otherwise).

I considered myself fairly open-minded and well-informed about sex education prior to reading Legitimate Sexpectations – even though I received little more than the standard “how to use a pad” and “how the sperm penetrates the egg” at school, as far as I can recall. And yet, Marson opened my eyes, again and again, as to how the system as it stands is failing kids (and adults).

Most importantly, she doesn’t just identify the problems. In Legitimate Sexpectations, Marson outlines potential solutions.

This is a very well-balanced, forward-thinking book, one that would make an excellent pair with Jess Hill’s See What You Made Me Do. I want to thrust Legitimate Sexpectations into the hands of every politician, parent, and school principal.

Buy Legitimate Sexpectations on Booktopia here.